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Why Can’t Black Women and White Women Talk to Each Other?

The snarky, multicultural cast of VH1’s Charm School shows some things never change.

VH1 Charm School

It was clear from the moment Ricki Lake was introduced as the host of this season’s Charm School on VH1 that there was going to be ‘90s talk-show-type drama on the set. Lake, who always managed to bridge the high-low divide on her syndicated gabfest, is the perfect headmistress for a racially mixed cast of mostly black women from the show Real Chance of Love and white chicks from Rock of Love Bus.

Charm School is designed to reform bad-girl behavior through charitable acts, such as donating clothes, feeding the homeless and cleaning up the Los Angeles River. It also promises to be an interesting social experiment of the nature of relationships between black and white women.

This is an experiment that some of us have been having our whole lives. Women’s relationships are fraught in general, but race and ethnicity always throws some extra craziness into the mix. This season of Charm School is giving me flashbacks of my life in multicultural Miami. In both life and in art, it seems that we don’t know how to talk to each other.

By episode two of this season, the racial divides were already apparent. The white women constantly refer to the black women as “loud and obnoxious” and said they were “threatened and intimidated” by the sisters. One white cast member said she felt like she had been “dropped off in the ghetto."


For their part, the black women commented about how all the white women in the “blondtourage” wanted to do was “drink tequila and take showers together.” Doing their best Mean Girls impression, the white women locked one nemesis in the bathroom and shoved hot dogs under the door, mocking her for being fat because she is not a size 4 like them.